Planes to cover more of Suffolk

LOW-flying aircraft currently blighting large swathes of south Suffolk are to be moved north to cover most of the county early next year, it was revealed today.

LOW-flying aircraft currently blighting large swathes of south Suffolk are to be moved north to cover most of the county early next year, it was revealed today.

Much of Suffolk and south Norfolk is to be opened up to civil aviation following changes from the National Air Traffic Service (NATS).

That could lead to an initial drop in the number of flights over the towns of Ipswich and Felixstowe - although allowing an expansion of Stansted will probably mean the number will soon increase back to the existing level.

The warning came from Dick Histed from the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group (SSATAG) after he spoke at the resumed public inquiry into the proposed expansion of the airport.

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Mr Histed warned that the NATS changes - which it is currently consulting about - would shatter the peace of many more communities.

He told the inquiry: “Day time disturbance is caused by the passage of 220-300 jets a day over an 18-hour period at heights of 6-12,000 feet, most in the lower half of this band. Departing traffic climbs out over the top of the arrivals.

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“The passage of a single jet an hour would not cause concern but what actually happens is that there will be a continuous stream of traffic, randomly spaced but concentrated at busy times to separations of 30-45 seconds. This will go on hour after hour.”

Mr Histed showed maps he had obtained from the CAA showing how air traffic from the east and north used a marker beacon at Clacton to fly in to airports across the south east - Stansted, Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.

Another relief route takes planes flying to Stansted and Luton slightly to the north - flying over Ipswich - although many more flights go over Felixstowe and the Trimleys.

Speaking after the inquiry Mr Histed said many people in south Suffolk might notice a reduction in flights early next year as more airspace to the north was opened up.

Areas of Suffolk to the east and south of Bury St Edmunds across to the Waveney valley and the north sea near Lowestoft would be opened to planes approaching airports in the south east.

Mr Histed added: “But the reduction in flights here won't last long if the Stansted expansion is allowed - it won't take long to come back to the current levels of flying then there will be a look to open up more airspace.”

Robert Erith from the Dedham Vale Preservation Society said pressure from his organisation had prompted NATS to move the airspace over the tranquil area after planes started flying there in 1999.

Mr Erith told the inquiry: “However when the agreed day came on 18 March 2004 the controllers didn't make any change at all - and we have started a legal action as a result of that.”

The court case has now been adjourned until the results of the NATS changes are confirmed early next year.

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